scalper (n.) "person who re-sells tickets at unauthorized prices for a profit," 1869, American English; earliest reference is to theater tickets, but often used late 19c. of brokers who sold unused portions of railway tickets. [Railways charged less per mile for longer-distance tickets; therefore someone travelling from New York to Chicago could buy a ticket all the way to San Francisco, get out at Chicago and sell it to a scalper, and come away with more money than he would if he had bought a ticket to Chicago; the Chicago scalper would hold the ticket till he found someone looking for a ticket to San Francisco.] Perhaps from the verbal sense of SCALP (Cf. scalp); scalper was a generic term for "con man, cheater" in late 19c. Or perhaps the connecting sense is the bounty offered for scalps of certain destructive animals (attested in New England from 1703) and sometimes Indians (i.e., having only part of something, but still getting paid). Some, though, see a connection rather to scalpel, the surgical instrument.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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  • scalper — [ skalpe ] v. tr. <conjug. : 1> • 1769; angl. to scalp, de scalp « calotte crânienne », du scand. skalp « coquille » ♦ Dépouiller (qqn) du cuir chevelu après incision circulaire de la peau. « L affreuse coutume de scalper l ennemi augmente… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Scalper — (sk[a^]lp [ e]r), n. 1. One who, or that which, scalps. [1913 Webster] 2. (Surg.) Same as {Scalping iron}, under {Scalping}. [1913 Webster] 3. A broker who, dealing on his own account, tries to get a small and quick profit from slight… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • scalper — [[t]skæ̱lpə(r)[/t]] scalpers N COUNT A scalper is someone who sells tickets outside a sports ground or theatre, usually for more than their original value. [AM] Another scalper said he d charge a $1000 for a $125 ticket. (in BRIT, use tout) …   English dictionary

  • scalper — UK [ˈskælpə(r)] / US [ˈskælpər] noun [countable] Word forms scalper : singular scalper plural scalpers American a ticket tout …   English dictionary

  • Scalper — Scalpation Robert McGee adulte, scalpé par le chef Sioux Petite Tortue en 1864 lorsqu il était enfant. La scalpation est une pratique guerrière qui consiste à arracher tout ou partie du cuir chevelu d un adversaire, mort ou vivant. Elle est …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Scalper — A person trading in the equities or options and futures market who holds a position for a very short period of time in an attempt to profit from the bid ask spread. A person who buys large quantities of in demand items, such as new electronics or …   Investment dictionary

  • scalper — (skal pé) v. a. En parlant des sauvages de l Amérique du Nord, arracher la peau du crâne à un ennemi. •   L affreuse coutume de scalper l ennemi augmente la férocité du combat, CHATEAUBR. Amér. la Guerre.. ÉTYMOLOGIE    Voy. scalpe ; angl. to… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • scalper — noun Scalper is used after these nouns: ↑ticket …   Collocations dictionary

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